AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - For the first time ever the Maine Senate Committee on Conduct and Ethics met to look into allegations that two state senators misused taxpayer money.
Two Democratic Senators accused two Republican Senators of double dipping by using campaign or PAC money to pay for expenses, then getting taxpayer dollars for those same bills.
Democratic Senator Justin Alfond accused his colleague Republican Ron Collins of double dipping, saying Collins used unused money from his election fund to pay hotel bills, then got taxpayer dollars that help legislators with expenses.
"He had already pre-paid for his lodging so now he was asking the Maine taxpayer to repay something that he never personally paid for,” Alfond told committee members.
Senator Collins told the committee he was entitled to the per diem that all Legislators get for lodging and he did nothing wrong.
“Based on the information that's before us today and acknowledged by all of you sitting before me today, that it is permissible”, Collins testified.
Committee members then voted 4-1 that Collins did not do anything unethical.
Afterwards, Collins said he was outraged that his character was called into question less than two weeks before the election.
“This is all about dirty politics and using any means possible to get the majority in the Senate. I'm ashamed of them, they shouldn't be doing this. They ruined my reputation”, he said.
The hearing into allegations against the other Senator, Andre Cushing, was postponed.
Noticeably absent today was Democratic Senator John Patrick, who made the initial allegations against his colleagues. His absence upset both committee members and the accused.